Why you bought it: how influences to buy sports products from personal network members differ between social media and in-person settings

Why you bought it: how influences to buy sports products from personal network members differ between social media and in-person settings
By Marcus Guido - 2014

This major research project explores the extent to which normative and informational influences exerted by core and significant ties differ between social media and in-person contexts. Specifically, it focuses on how such influences persuade recreational athletes to buy sports products. Though normative and informational influences from a variety of personal ties have been studied in online and offline settings, they are seldom explicitly compared and contrasted. Moreover, recreational athletes and sports products have never been the subject of such studies. Based on qualitative interviews with six recreational athletes between the ages of 18 and 30, this study uses a content analysis with open coding to identify significant themes. The findings indicate that although in-person normative influence to buy sports products is easily identifiable, normative influence on social media is more difficult to detect. Yet regardless of the context, normative influence is powered by one’s desire for inclusion into a group. On the other hand, informational influence in the form of product recommendations does not differ between the examined settings. Thorough recommendations are more sought after than pithy ones, experts challenge recommendations and those who do not know much about a given product will seek information from experts. However, the findings also indicate that informational influence in the form of observation and analysis is preferred in offline situations compared with online ones. It is therefore clear that separate facets of normative and informational influence each present unique similarities or dissimilarities between in-person and social media settings.